Eye-tracker Technology Watches Your Reading

In tests on volunteers wearing infrared eye-tracking glasses, his team found that their software could count the number of words read with an accuracy of about 94 per cent, and tell how fast you were reading, purely by looking at the movement of the eyes. By asking their volunteers to read different types of materials – novels, fashion magazines, newspapers, research papers and textbooks – they have shown that these various media can be discerned near perfectly from the way readers’ eyes move around their telltale layouts.

What’s catching your eye?

NewScientist - “ADDICTED to the Mail Online’s infamous celebrity tittle-tattle and not spending enough time in Hemingway’s company? A new breed of device could soon be logging everything you read, letting you see for yourself whether your reading habits need revamping.

The “quantified self” movement has spawned wearable gadgets like Fitbit and FuelBand, which monitor physical fitness, telling you how far you’ve walked or how many calories you’ve burned. How about logging how much you read on screens instead? Like a Fitbit for the mind.

A “cognitive activity tracker” developed by Kai Kunze at Osaka Prefecture University in Japan can tell how many words we read, how often and how fast we read, and even whether we are skim reading or actually concentrating on the content. It could also generate summaries of documents as you read them by logging which passages your eyes dwell on.

Such detail about what we look at, whether on a screen or on paper, is being made possible by the emergence of gaze-trackers – devices that monitor our eyes to analyse where we are looking. Swedish firm Tobii Technology is leading the way in commercialising the technology. It has developed a $99 system that uses infrared cameras trained on the cornea to watch for the eyeball’s movements. These cameras can be built into a headset, such as Google Glass, or clipped to the top of a computer screen or tablet…” Full Article on NS

“Google’s recently filed patent for a Gaze Tracking System is a big deal and could one day revolutionize the advertising industry, the industry upon which the company has built its empire. In this theoretical pay-per-gaze scheme, advertisers are charged when a passerby actually looks at their ad. The gaze tracking system would initially need to be paired with a headset like Google’s forthcoming Glass to track your eye movement, but could eventually be applied to any consumer simply walking down the street…”

The Facebook Comment That Ruined a Life

“The fact is, the case should be dismissed,” he says. “He didn’t do anything wrong. … That’s what dictatorships all around the world used to do. They’d say, ‘If you confess to your crimes against the state, we will let you go.’ I mean, fuck you. I didn’t do anything wrong. … ‘Just admit you’re a witch or we’ll burn you. Why won’t you just admit you’re a witch?'”

Dallas Observer – “Approximately one hour after Justin Carter posted a sarcastic comment on a Facebook thread, his life began to ­unravel.

The first reaction occurred behind the scenes, in another country. The 18-year-old Carter had no way of knowing that, while he did grunt work at a drapery shop in San Antonio, a person in Canada saw his comments — posted 60 days after the Sandy Hook school-shooting tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut — freaked out and initiated a 24-hour chain reaction of insanity that would wind up with Carter facing 10 years in prison.

Carter’s comments were part of a duel between dorks, and may have had something to do with a game with strong dork appeal called League of Legends. But the actual details and context of the online exchange are, in the eyes of Texas authorities, unimportant. Prosecutors say they don’t have the entire thread — instead, they have three comments on a cell-phone screenshot.

One of the comments appears to be a response to an earlier comment in which someone called Carter crazy. Carter’s retort was: “I’m fucked in the head alright, I think I’ma SHOOT UP A KINDERGARTEN [sic].”

Carter followed with “AND WATCH THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT RAIN DOWN.”

When a person writing under the profile name “Hannah Love” responded with “i hope you [burn] in hell you fucking prick,” Carter put the cherry on top: “AND EAT THE BEATING HEART OF ONE OF THEM.” (The Austin police officer who wrote up the subsequent report noted: “all caps to emphasize his anger or rage.” )

That’s when someone in Canada — an individual as yet unidentified in court records — notified local authorities. Because Carter’s profile listed him as living in Austin, the Canadians sent the tip to the Austin Police Department. Along with a cell-phone screenshot of part of the thread and a link to Carter’s Facebook page, the tipster provided this narrative: “This man, Justin Carter, made a number of threats on Facebook to shoot up a class of kindergartners. … He also made numerous comments telling people to go shoot themselves in the face and drink bleach. The threats to shoot the children were made approximately an hour ago.”

…Based on a Travis County prosecutor’s belief that there was probable cause to charge Carter with a third-degree terroristic threat — which carries a penalty of two to 10 years — a judge issued an arrest warrant. U.S. marshals traced Carter to the drapery shop in San Antonio, where he worked, and handcuffed the cherub-faced, brown-haired teen. Until that point, his only brush with the law was a temporary restraining order two years earlier.

After his booking into the Bexar County Jail, authorities discovered that he actually lived inNew Braunfels — Comal County. After his transfer there, his bond was increased from $250,000 to half a million dollars.

According to Carter’s attorney, Don Flanary, the 18-year-old suffered brutal attacks in the Comal County Jail during the four months he was held there.

Police records allege that, upon being booked into Bexar County Jail, Carter stated, “I guess what you post on Facebook matters.”

He had no idea.” Full Story on Dallas Observer

Death By Metadata: Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Reveal NSA Role in Assassinations Overseas

Published on Feb 10, 2014

http://www.democracynow.org – In the first exposé for their new venture, First Look Media’s digital journal The Intercept, investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald reveal the National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes. The NSA identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies, an unreliable tactic that has resulted in the deaths of innocent and unidentified people. The United States has reportedly carried out drone strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cell phone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike. Scahill and Greenwald join us to discuss their report and the launch of their media project.

Share and watch the full 35-minute discussion uninterrupted

K5 Robots Predict & Prevent Crime in Your Community

The creators of the K5 robo-cop are calling these robots, “New Hometown Heroes”…it really just gives you the warm fuzzies, doesn’t it? Just imagine the near-limitless profit potential, er, safety potential…pretty soon we’ll have Pre-Crime Cops, Pre-Crime SWAT Teams…PreCrime detention centers where people can stay until…uh…K5 decides they are no longer a threat to the neighborhood? Sing along after me now, boy and girls…

“It’s a beautiful robotic day in the neighborhood, a robotic day in the neighborhood…don’t think of a crime…or else you’ll be mine…” 

Knightscope - “Imagine a friend that can see, hear, feel and smell that would tirelessly watch over your neighborhood, keep your loved ones safe and put a smile on anyone walking by your business. Imagine if we could utilize technology to make our communities stronger and safer…..together.

Knightscope is developing technology that will predict and prevent crime with an innovative combination of hardware, software and social engagement.

Crime has a $1+ trillion negative economic impact on the US each year and it will only worsen with the continued increases in population, strains on municipal budgets and volatility around the world.

The Knightscope K5 Autonomous Data Machine utilizes a combination of autonomous robots and predictive analytics to provide a commanding but friendly physical presence while gathering important real-time on-site data with numerous sensors.

How Does It Work?

Data collected through these sensors is processed through our predictive analytics engine, combined with existing business, government and crowdsourced social data sets, and subsequently assigned an alert level that determines when the community and the authorities should be notified of a concern.

If an alert is pushed, the K5 machine will turn on all of its sensors to allow the entire community to review everything and also contribute important real-time information. Our approach alleviates any privacy concerns, engages the community on a social level to effectively crowdsource security, and provides an important feedback loop to the prediction engine.

Dimensions:

Height – 60 Inches (1,524 mm)

Length – 36 Inches (914 mm)

Width – 32 inches (813 mm)

Weight – 300 pounds (136 kg)

CUSTOMER Applications

Knightscope’s quickest avenue to commercialize the K5 technology is to augment private security services on corporate campuses and in large, vacant buildings and warehouses. Tedious and monotonous monitoring should be handled by the K5, leaving “hands-on” activities to security personnel.

Knightscope has also received numerous inquiries proposing a variety of use cases where the K5 would make a positive impact. These offer substantial future growth opportunities in areas including, but not limited to, schools, shopping centers, hotels, auto dealerships, stadiums, casinos, law enforcement agencies, seaports, and airports.

Justifying the Unjustifiable: Deconstructing the Lies of the NSA

GlobalResearchTV – “As the public finally becomes outraged over the NSA’s illegal spying, members of government and the corporate media wage an information war to misdirect that anger to issues of less importance. To counteract this, a bold new citizen-led initiative to nullify the NSA is now gaining momentum around the United States…”

 

Americans are “outraged” by the NSA’s illegal spying, huh? That’s interesting…

Rule from the Shadows – The Psychology of Power

“Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.”

-President Woodrow Wilson in his book the “The New Freedom” published in 1913

Excerpts, StormCloudsGathering – “The quest for power is the primary driving force of history, always has been, always will be. Those who fail to recognize this principle are not spared in the grand chess game, but rather are moved and manipulated by forces that they do not understand.

From the perspective of those who dominate the board it is obviously preferable to have a population of ignorant pawns than it is to have an array of opponents which are capable of mounting an effective resistance. To that end it has always been in the interest of the ruling class to cultivate illusions which obscure the true nature of the game…”

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

- Edward Bernays – “Propaganda” 1928

“The invisible government that Walter Lippmann, Edward Bernays, and Woodrow Wilson had referred to was not just an abstract concept. It was a very real and concrete reality, and they were were well positioned to comment on it, because they directly participated in its creation.

It all started as an inquiry. “The Inquiry.” to the select few who knew, was a group of 150 men assembled by Woodrow Wilson to gather the data they thought necessary to “make the world safe for democracy” after World War I was over.

Among the known members of the inquiry were Walter Lippmann, Paul Warburg (better known as the father of the Federal Reserve), and Edward House, Wilson’s closest advisor, the man responsible for convincing Wilson to sign the Federal Reserve Act in 1913.

From 1917 to 1918, the group compiled over 2000 documents to be used during postwar negotiations. The most famous of these was the 14 points document, authored by Walter Lippmann, which proposed the creation of the League of Nations, the predecessor to the United Nations.

After the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 a portion of the Inquiry met at the Hotel Majestic with a number of British diplomats to discuss forming a permanent institution. This meeting eventually led to the decision to join forces with a group of high-ranking officers of banking, manufacturing, trading and finance companies led by Elihu Root, a powerful corporate lawyer who was also a former United States Secretary of War, and leading advocate of Americas entry into the World War I. On July 29, 1921 the merged group filed a certification of incorporation, officially forming the Council on Foreign Relations, also known as the CFR.

The CFR, went on to build a membership comprised of the worlds most powerful business leaders, politicians and corporations. Among the corporate members are Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Chevron, Exxon, Shell, BP Oil, General Electric, Raytheon, Lockhead Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Bloomberg, Rothschild North America, and Dyncorp international. You can find a complete list on the CFR website.”

Group psychology is a weapon and like all weapons it is capable of being used for good or for evil. For many years it has been in the wrong hands. It has been hidden from the public and used against them. It’s time for the people to pick up that weapon and use it to free themselves.

Time to start studying.

Read Gustave Le Bon’s books: “The Crowd” and “The Psychology of Revolution”.

Read Edward Bernays’ books: “Propaganda” and “Crystalizing Public Opinion”.

And read Gene Sharp’s books: “From Dictatorship to Democracy” and “National Security Through Civilian-Based Defense”

Learn the theory. Learn the techniques and start using them to spread the truth rather than hiding it. Start using them to prevent wars rather than start them. Start using them to stop the militarization of the police and to end the surveillance state. Use them to bring this corporate mafia to its knees.

To some of you this might be a bit frightening. This is dangerous stuff. These are ideological m-16s with boxes of ammunition.

If even a few motivated individuals started using these techniques effectively it could seriously disrupt the balance of power.

But that’s exactly what’s needed.

I challenge you to look around. Look at the state of the world. Look at where these psychopaths are taking us. If you do not feel the imperative to change the course we are on, then you are not paying attention.

To be continued (Parts 2 and 3 are already under way).”

Read Full Story With Sources, Full Transcript and Bonus Footage Here

Modern Police Interrogation Techniques Use Subtle Psychological Manipulation

Everest – ‘Nothing guarantees a criminal conviction more than a confession. But getting a confession—especially a confession that will hold up in court—is no easy task. To overcome a suspect’s natural impulse to deny guilt—and to avoid having an interrogation halted by a request for a lawyer—criminal justice experts have developed sophisticated interviewing techniques that employ subtle psychological manipulation and observation of body language to bring out the truth.

Perhaps the most influential expert in modern criminal interrogation was the late John E. Reid. Although trained in the use of the polygraph (lie-detector), Reid discovered he could achieve better results through emotional bonding and empathy than with technology. Reid went on to found his own company, John E. Reid and Associates, which continues to teach his technique to police departments throughout North America.

The nine steps of the “Reid Technique” are:

1) Direct Confrontation. The interrogator lays out the evidence that led to the suspect’s arrest, and then offers the suspect an early opportunity to confess.
2) Deflection.  If the suspect does not immediately confess, the interrogator suggests that some other person or set of circumstances forced the suspect to commit the crime, this providing the suspect with moral justification for his/her actions. This is called developing a “theme,” which may change over the course of the interrogation depending on how the suspect responds.
3) Dominance. The interrogator insists on doing all the taking, laying out various scenarios to explain how the crime may have occurred. By prohibiting the suspect from responding, the interrogator gives the suspect little or no chance to deny guilt (Once denials start, a confession becomes increasingly difficult to obtain) as well as few opportunities to demand an attorney.
4) Turning Objections into Justifications.  At this point, the suspect will give some character-based reason why he/she could not have committed the crime (“I hate violence!”), which a trained interrogator can then twist into an acceptable excuse for why the suspect did what he/she is accused of (“So you really didn’t want to kill him, did you?”)
5) Expressing Empathy. The interrogator continues to express empathy for the suspect, suggesting that he/she would have reacted just like the suspect did under similar circumstances. Again, the idea is to offer the suspect an opportunity to justify the crime within some socially acceptable framework.
6) Offering Alternative Themes. Often, at this point in the interrogation, the suspect becomes quiet and submissive. The interrogator should now offer a number of alternative “themes” or scenarios—along with possible motives—and observe which gets the most response from the suspect.
7) Posing the “Alternative Question.” Once a likely scenario has been established, the interrogator offers two scenarios, the major difference being that one has a more socially acceptable motive than the other. (e.g., “You hated her,” vs. “She gave you no choice.”) At this point, the suspect will usually select the “safer” option, but either way, guilt has been admitted.
8) Repetition. The interrogator has the suspect repeat the confession in front of one or more new witnesses, such as other police officers.
9) Documentation. The interrogator orders the confession written up and then signed by the suspect as quickly as possible.

To make the Reid system work, it’s also vital that the interrogator be trained in reading subtle changes in body language, including eye movements, that can be telltale signs of lying, evasion or insincerity.”

The Legacy of Imprisoned Investigative Journalist Barrett Brown

Excerpts, The Daily Dot – “Given the National Security Agency’s surveillance revelations of the last few months, we need to pay even more attention to the private companies who are working hand-in-hand with the state to carry this mass surveillance out. In fact, someone’s already done a lot of that work for us—an American journalist who has been in jail for over a year: Barrett Brown.

In a statement released on MondayWikiLeaks states that Brown is “being persecuted for critical reporting on the growing surveillance state” and that his prosecution “chills investigative reporting of national security issues and provides cover for the unholy alliance between government agencies and the security industry.” The Dallas, Texas-based writer—who contributed to The GuardianHuffington Post, and Vanity Fair, among other outlets—now faces up to 105 years in prison on charges that are crucially related to his reporting.

Brown’s status as a journalist will most likely affect how his actions are perceived in a court of law. His investigative journalism, memorialized at the crowdsourced research outfit with an associated wiki, Project PM, brought to light extremely important findings on the issue of private firms and public surveillance. While Brown isn’t due sole credit for all of the information below, he followed these matters very closely. Now, more than ever, it is important for other journalists and researchers to revisit and recognize the importance of his work and if possible, pick up threads where he left off. As such, it’s worth going over a summary review of some critical subjects Brown reported on, and the private firms he investigated allegedly involved in gathering intelligence and surveilling public citizens.

1) Team Themis

Team Themis is a consortium of firms, made up of HBGary, Palantir, Berico, and Endgame Systems, that was apparently set up to provide offensive intelligence capabilities against certain enemies on behalf of the law firm Hunton & Williams, who was working at the behest of Bank of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Continue reading

Scientists Call For Creation Of DNA Identification Organization

Forensic scientists are calling for the creation of a DNA identification organization — one that functions much in the same way the International Atomic Energy Agency does, which sends inspectors to nuclear facilities.

NPR – “Human DNA is the ultimate fingerprint. A single hair can contain enough information to determine someone’s identity — a feature that’s been invaluable for identifying the unnamed casualties of natural disasters and war. But forensic scientists who use DNA say the technology isn’t always available where it’s most needed, like in poor countries, or in war zones like Syria.

The technology is often too expensive or too complicated, and where there are large numbers of unknown dead, you need far more than just DNA profiling equipment. You also need sophisticated computer programs to organize and match DNA samples from numerous family members, as well as experts to read the samples properly.

Alex John London, a medical ethicist at Carnegie Mellon University, says that while there are numerous groups that do DNA identification worldwide, and the process is often ad hoc and erratic.

It was largely the Indian Ocean tsunami that got forensic experts thinking. There were tens of thousands of unidentified bodies, and DNA experts flocked to Thailand to set up labs. Tom Parsons, a DNA expert with the International Commission on Missing Persons, says Thailand got the attention because western tourists died there. Their governments sent teams to find their bodies, but it didn’t go well.

“All of the world’s first-rate forensic teams took off to Thailand, where white people were killed,” Parsons says, “with no centralized plan, pushing and pulling.” Governments funded the effort because they wanted their citizens’ remains back. But it was “really a mess,” says Parsons. Different groups wouldn’t share their technology, and even disagreed on how to do the DNA analysis. There was little coordination.

Eventually Interpol, the international police organization, intervened. The commission ended up identifying some 900 people, mostly Thais who might not have been identified otherwise.

Parsons says in the end the DNA work in Thailand was a success, but it revealed to forensic experts that there might be a better way to do this — that in fact a permanent organization with DNA “chops,” money and an international mandate to respond to disasters might work better.

“Our concern was that there should be a mechanism in place that would allow access to DNA identification beyond just ability to pay,” London says. “Too often if there isn’t a funder out there, then people who are missing relatives won’t get access to the technology.”

So forensic scientists are calling for the creation of a DNA identification organization — one that functions much in the same way the International Atomic Energy Agency does, which sends inspectors to nuclear facilities.

But London acknowledges in an article in the journal Science that a global DNA identification organization would face political obstacles, especially from governments at war with their own citizens.” Listen to All Things Considered on NPR

Echoes Of Darkness

StormCloudsGathering“The powers that be shredded the constitution and took you into a series of wars that have left countless civilians dead based on this event. You owe it to your children and grand children to take another look at it…”

Purple Here, Purple There…Purple, Purple Everywhere!

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” 

Alice Walker, The Color Purple

No nasty headlines here today…no GMO information, no Monsanto slamming (yeah, that’s a tough one for me) and of course, no posts about our pathetically inept guvernmint. The world is a mess, I think we’ve all gotten the memo, haven’t we? So…instead of focusing on the muckity-muck today, I thought I’d aim for something more off-beat & hopefully, positive and uplifting. Since I encouraged folks to share what they know, what they’re learning and different ways to become more self-reliant  in the Like A Phoenix: Power Beyond The Fall article, I figure I should take my own advice and share some about the projects we’ve started as we walk our path of  a less consumer-driven and more sustainable & satisfying lifestyle. 

This past weekend we put the scrap lumber & old doors to use and got the chicken coop built. We still need to add a proper roost and nesting box but the hard part is finished at least. Total cost came to around $30 for the wire and a couple of 2×4’s. We bought more wire than we needed but I’m sure we’ll find use for the leftovers in the garden…maybe even use it to make a spiral herb garden, who knows? 

1aP1140675

Yes, there’s a bench inside…if I can’t sit down, how can they hop on my lap for a nap?!

We’re also considering adding a couple of small rain-catchers on either end of the slanted roof; we don’t get much rain here but since we are in such a horrible drought in this region, every saved drop of water counts. Total spent on the hens so far is still under $60…not too shabby and it’s possible we didn’t have to spend that much but hey, I like to spoil them with mealworms, what can I say? They are healthy & happy…not to mention, wonderful pets and tons of fun to have around! Oh, and just because the coop isn’t purple now, doesn’t mean it won’t be at some point in the future…just in case you were wondering what a plain ol’ wood coop had to do with a purple blog-post…

Along with getting the coop done, we also made time to head over and check out the new local nursery (they grow what they sell and don’t import; I LOVE that!)…it was a rainbow of happy colors, oh my! Decisions, decisions!  Some of these and a few of those and oooh….lookit those flowers! In the end, I went on a purple spree…and who knew that Petunias are my favorite flower? I sure the hell didn’t know that until now! Apurple

Wait…did I just say Petunias are my new favorite? Oops…I forgot all about the Purple Sage that now sits happily in our little tea-garden area!

Apurpsage

If heaven exists, it is here and now & THIS is what it smells like! You can’t touch this gorgeous plant without releasing the fragrance…sorry there is no “Scratch & Sniff” option on computers…you’ll just have to trust me on this. I’m looking forward to having fresh sage to cook with and to make my own sage bundles for incense…and oh yes, the buzzy-bees and flutterbyes adore this plant so it’s a win all the way around.

Because we plan on using several hanging containers both inside & out and since I am, in the words of my 6ft3in son, a “short-shit”, I decided that some sort of step-ladder or stool might be helpful…I got super-lucky and scored this little old gem at the ReStore for a whoppin’ $2.

1AP1140690

It was an ugly, chipped brown and a bit wobbly but with a couple of screws and quick coat of paint, it’s cute AND functional! Total cost was under $5 and I am sure I’ll more than get my money’s worth of use out of it. My only problem now is wondering if I shouldn’t have painted it purple but hey, I guess it makes sense to add an accent color here and there, doesn’t it? 

In keeping with my love of all things purple, I decided to go all out and treat myself to some Manic Panic Purple Haze color for my hair. It’s not exactly non-consumerist of me but considering I cut my own hair, use maybe 1 eyeliner pencil every two years and spend about $20 a year on “gurl stuffs”, I’m not going to sweat a $10 splurge now and then. Besides, I’d hate to offend my pretty Mad Hatter’s tea-party- garden-in-the-making by being a bland presence in it…it’s a tough sacrifice for me to make (Mwahahahahhaha believe THAT and I’ll sell you the beach-front property next door for a helluva price!) but ya know, it’s a tough world out there and sometimes…well, a freak’s gotta do what a freak’s gotta do! 

not ready for me II

“How Not To Dress In The Bible Belt” taken on our southern vacation a couple of years ago…

For wonderful gardening tips, take a minute (or several!) and check-out Auntie Dogma’s Garden SpotYou’ll find tons of excellent how-to information and links and in case you didn’t get enough purple from this post, you can follow up with today’s post there about…Lavender

I’m off now for a day or so…I got a paying gig building a new blog site for a prison advocacy organization and I want to put all of my energy and focus into doing a bang-up job for them. I hope everyone has a wonderful rest of the week and I’ll be back in a few days, if not sooner!

Genetic Privacy

“Stealing genetic and medical information without consent is unethical and dangerous, allowing every individual to be tracked and their relatives to be identified.”

The Daily Scan – “Private companies may be able to purchase access to medical and genetic data, and possibly to personal data, housed in databases of the UK’s National Health Service, the Observer‘s Jamie Doward reports.

But, this “revelation, which contradicts government claims that such material would be completely anonymous, has raised fears that pharmaceutical firms and insurance companies will be able to determine the identities of people susceptible to particular diseases,” Doward says.

Doward notes that details obtained under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the data provided will initially be anonymized, but that companies can appeal to receive data that includes ages and postcodes. Further, while people will be able to request that their genetic data not be shared, it might not always be possible.” Full Story

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA...

The Guardian – “The government is keen for Britain to be at the forefront of the genetic revolution, a potential multi-billion-pound industry. Last year David Cameron launched a £100m scheme to map the genomes of up to 100,000 people, saying it would help to save lives by delivering new treatments. The move was seen as the first step in the construction of a national human genome database.

Under the scheme, firms would be able to access the information at a cost, but ministers insist that all data will be strictly anonymous. However, material released under the Freedom of Information Act reveals that firms can invoke an appeal process to demand “patient-identifiable data”, such as age and postcode.

“Without a semblance of transparency, a national genetic database, connected to personal medical records and made available to the private sector, has been set up. Privacy laws have been redefined and our own genomic information is being commercialised,” said Edward Hockings, a bioethicist from the pressure group Ethics and Genetics, who made the FOI requests.” Full Story

Special Ops Command Presses For Increased Activity in Latin America

Am I the only one that finds this just a tad…erm…unnerving…?

Do we seriously not have enough going on around the world right now?

1 war, 2 wars…3 wars….MORE..!

Oh wait that’s right, we’re not at war in Latin America… we’re just down there meddling in their sovereign affairs and pissing away money like there’s no tomorrow…

From Department of Defense:

(Emphasis mine) WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2013 – Despite dwindling resources and a national defense focus on the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, the commander of Special Operations Command South is committed to not only maintaining, but increasing engagements in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Army Brig. Gen. Sean P. Mulholland, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command South, right, chats with Colombians whom his special operators are mentoring at the Tolemaida national training base in Colombia, Nov. 4, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Edward Lauer

Regular, sustained engagement is key to SOC South’s core mission: building partner capacity so regional nations can address their own challenges, Army Brig. Gen. Sean P. Mulholland told American Forces Press Service while here for an annual Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict Symposium and Exhibition.

“On any given day, I have over 300 people deployed downrange to Central and South America, including members of every service’s special operations force and their civil affairs and military information support teams,” he said. “SOC South is engaged 365 [days a year], 24/7.”

A Green Beret who has served most of his career within Latin America, Mulholland said he’s convinced that persistent engagement establishes a level of credibility and trust simply not possible through traditional training and exercise programs. “Building partner capacity is planting seeds” that require nurturing over time, he said.

“It’s really not rocket science. It’s about personal relationships and what we do as we build partner capacity,” he said. “It is always letting your partners know that you are there, inside their country, helping them out — whether it is one guy or 50 guys and gals. It is all about contact.”

Since assuming command in October, Mulholland has made a concerted effort to promote these contacts, all governed by the host nation’s requests, in collaboration with the U.S. embassy country team and at the direction of U.S. Southern Command.

“We don’t do anything [the host nation] doesn’t ask for. And we don’t do anything the embassy hasn’t approved that we do,” he explained. “There is nothing spooky or under-the-table about what we do. It is all above-board, and it is all about building partner capacity.”

That capacity is vital to stemming the challenges in the region: drug traffickers and other transnational criminals and terrorist elements seeking footholds in ungoverned spaces, among them. These groups use these areas to flow drugs and other illicit shipments through Central America and Mexico and, ultimately, to the United States.

“The best way to go after a threat is to have that partner nation develop a security capacity and diminish that threat,” Mulholland said. “I can affect this bridge coming up north through Mexico to the United States. I can do that by helping build partner capacity with [host nation] units that are actually going to go out there and do something about it. And that is happening.”

Mulholland cited Colombia as the shining example of what capacity building can achieve.

Historically, the FARC — Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia — ran rampant in Colombia, terrorizing citizens with a spate of murders, kidnapping and other activities associated with narcotics trafficking. But 25 years ago, the Colombian police force was corrupt and the military forces were in disarray.

Today, thanks to strong Colombian leadership and persistent U.S. support and engagement, Colombia has capable, highly respected security forces. In addition to securing their own country, they are now training other regional militaries.

“They have become exporters of [force integration training],” Mulholland said, taking what they have learned and sharing it with their neighbors. “This is Latins training Latins, and that is a beautiful story,” Mulholland said. “It’s poetry.”

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New Law Proposed in MO: Criminalize the Failure to Notify Schools of Your Private Business

“A Missouri lawmaker has proposed legislation that would require parents to notify their children’s school if they own a firearm.”

This irks the living crap out of me. Set aside the standard gun-issue arguments of whether or not we should own guns, how many or of what caliber and consider the concept underneath all of that…this law (or others like it) could be expanded…report to the school if you have medicines, objectionable books, cleaning products…think about it.

A 2nd point to consider…who is going to PAY for this?? Literally…where is the money going to come from to enforce this right now?

Who is going to go door-to-door and search the home of every child enrolled in MO schools? By what authority??? With – or without – search warrants and the all-too-common use of SWAT teams?

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Excerpt“The bill, introduced by Missouri Democratic State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, would make it a crime to fail to report gun ownership to a school and to store a firearm in a place where a child could possibly access it. The legislation also criminalizes failure to prevent illegal possession of a firearm by a child under the age of 18.

“This act requires a parent or guardian to notify a school district, or the governing body of a private or charter school, that he or she owns a firearm within 30 days of enrolling the child in school or becoming the owner of a firearm,” the bill reads in part. “The written notification only needs to include the names of the parent and any child attending the school and the fact that the parent owns a firearm…

Failure to report a firearm to a child’s school would result in a fine of up to $100 or $1,000 if the parent is also found guilty of “negligent storage of a firearm,” in addition to any other required punishments.”

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